Handout 1 - Report of the Neighboring Visiting, February, 1907
During the month of February, 98 visits were made in our neighbors' homes. Many homes were visited in an effort to interest the mothers of needy families in the sewing club, thus helping them to help themselves. Untiring patience is sometimes necessary before the mothers could be persuaded that they can spend two afternoons a week sewing for their families. We feel very much pleased that our visit in one especially needy house has at last produced results. The mother who has nine dirty, half-clothed children, made innumerable excuses, but finally yielded to the urgent invitations she so often received, and she is now faithful in attendance. Day work was found for women who needed employment. Several sick and needy families have been visited and by cooperating with the doctor, nurse, Associated Charities, and Hebrew Relief, their needs have been supplied. One girl has come to our notice, who seems to be in need of some awakening influence She is 14 years old, yet she is stupid, rarely talks unless forced to do so, and as her father expresses it " is lazy and no good at home." She seems to have no girlfriends, her mother is dead and the dreary house is presided over by a Polish woman who speaks very little English. Mary's father asked us to see what we could do for her. Accordingly, the house was visited and after much urging, Mary joined our sewing school, where she has been doing very good work. We can already see some improvement but we have made only a beginning and hope that in years to come, Mary may be a young woman of whom the Hiram House will be justly proud.
Efforts to awaken are not confined to the girls, but the boys received their share. One boy was reported to us by his teacher as a hopeless truant and a drone in school. His father said that he was "no good" and his mother shook her head in despair when asked about him. When the house was visited we ceased to wonder why Joe was such a problem, for it was a most miserable place--filthy, dank, and poorly furnished. The father has tuberculosis, and the mother is sick in bed about half the time, and one child is a hopeless cripple, unable to walk. The father did not understand the son and his methods of dealing with him drove him to seek all his pleasures with the "gang" on the streets. Repeated visits were made to the house and comradeship was established with Joe and he was urged to attend school regularly and was made to feel that his friends were expecting a great deal from him. After several months of effort on his behalf, his teacher says he is not the same boy. He is rarely absent from school, and his lack of ____ and made improvement in his study. We hope to watch Joe develop into a industrious and useful man. There is one other family of whom particular mention will be made. This is a family that lives in a house on the edge of the bluff overlooking the railroad south of Broadway. It is the third house from the street and is most flimsy and unsuitable. Four families live here. Housing is $18.00 per month into the landlord's purse. Three roomers live there along with a Polish family of ten. The oldest child is 13 years old and the father earns $9.00 per week. The family first came to our notice through a physician at Charity Hospital, who said the baby was poorly nourished. When we first visited the house the baby was very sick of pneumonia. The mother was at the point of desperation, because there was the family to be fed and clothed. Baby seemed to foretell the experience of a Polish funeral and only $9.00 per week carrying into the family treasury. The nurse and doctor were sent to the house and fresh milk was ordered for the baby in place of the condensed milk which had nourished it before. Associated Charities was interested in the family and milk tickets were sent to encourage them and help tide them over for the hard winter season. The family has been urged to move from their wretched surroundings and they have promised to do so as soon as a house can be found elsewhere. They are too proud to take much help and we find that it is better to let them use their ingenuity in managing. But a friendly interest in their fortunes, or more often their misfortunes encourages them. They felt that they are not left to struggle alone and that there are others who care if they fail or succeed.
Italians were visited for the first time this month. The rapidity with which they are moving their way indicates that the future residents will need an Italian vocabulary. The family called on consists of the wife, sixteen years old; her child--3 months old; a sister, 9 years of age; and an old grandmother. The family has no means of support for the wife's father and husband are in the
workhouse, her brother is in Lancaster, and she and her grandmother have no knowledge of any kind of work except field labor. The Associated Charities referred the case to us, asking us to call on them and to interest the wife and her sister in sewing school . We have done this and they have promised to come to the Hiram House to learn to sew. K. family has been followed up on immediately after the mother's death, the children were reported to juvenile court, where they were taken care of. We are trying to get in touch with all of the juvenile cases,...
The cases of Joe J., Paul J., and Jake S. were investigated in connection with brass stealing. The boys confessed that they were guilty, but did not seem overburdened with the enormity of their crime--a fact partly accounted for in the case of Paul J., who was the least concerned, by the attitude of the parents, who were inclined to laugh at the sly manners of the youthful thieves. It is now more evident than ever that ___ do as much as we can "on the levels" will occasionally slip off the level. We know that the boys are trying and we can only work and wait (a full account of this brass stealing episode will be handed in separately.) Another "on the level" has committed a theft. Arthur C. has recently stolen $2.50 from his mother. He claims he was urged to do this by two boys who belong to a newly organized gang called the "Irving Gang." I asked the names of the two boys. At first he claimed that he didn't know, but when urged to tell, he said" I'll tell if you promise that you won't tell Herman." I promised and he said it was Jimmy O'D. and T. O. I asked him why he didn't want Herman to know, "If Herman knew that these boys had been urging me to steal from my mother he'd beat them up until they almost "croaked." He said it made Herman awful mad to have boys steal from their mothers--a rather unique sense of honor, but to be admired just the same . The boys report that the new "Irving Gang" are committing all sorts of depredations and "Gookey's" [Zuckeys] are being blamed for them. They resent this, yet they can see they have earned their bad reputation. They are censuring the other gangs severely for doing the very things that they themselves were doing only a few months ago. Their better natures dwarfed and stunted by environment are beginning to put forth buds of promise. Harry C., Jimmy S., and "Midge" S. were entrusted to me from juvenile where they had been summoned to answer to the charge of stealing from a five-and-ten-cent-store downtown. Mr. Lewis said," Boys go with Miss Mitchell. Go to the Hiram House and learn to do what is right. If you'll listen to them, you won't get into trouble."...